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Nothing says love like a water buffalo

St. Stephen's hosts Alternative Gift Fair

Posted: November 14, 2008 8:48 p.m.
Updated: November 15, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Some attendees of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church stroll through a small preview display of the Alternative Gift Fair to be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday.

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The economy is tight and as the holidays approach, every penny becomes more valuable as shoppers try to find just the right gift for loved ones.

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Santa Clarita is giving locals an opportunity to buy gifts that carry some extra this weekend at an "Alternative Gift Fair" from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and noon to 3 p.m. Sunday at 24901 Orchard Village Road.

"We all have a need, a capacity, a yearning to give and help somebody," said Mary Jo Higginbotham, gift fair chairperson. "The Alternative Gift Fair is a celebration of our abundance and in our generosity we can give to people who need it most."

Whether it's a water well, shelter, a tree, food package, beehive or water buffalo, the fair will offer numerous gifts of "peace and justice" that can be bought for the less fortunate in honor of a purchaser's loved one.

"The whole idea is rather than keep purchasing materialistic things, to buy things that someone will care about or to buy something that will fit their personality or to do something that they want to see happen," Higginbotham said.

If a shopper has a relative that loves to sew, that shopper can purchase a sewing machine that will be donated to someone who needs it. The shopper then presents a gift card to that relative acknowledging a sewing machine was donated in their name.

If a friend is passionate about solving world hunger, a shopper can recognize and bless that passion by donating towards a water buffalo to be donated in that friend's name.

"Nothing says love like a water buffalo because it's a working animal and it helps people plow the fields," Higginbotham said.

The church has partnered with multiple organizations from the local SCV Food Pantry to the international Church World Service to provide an array of gifts that range from $10 to hundreds of dollars, all of which benefit someone less fortunate while blessing a loved one.

"We all have so much and yet the world suffers so much," said Reverend Lynn Jay of the church. "So rather than giving a gift to a friend or family member which is really just one more thing for them, we can give something to a world that is in pain and suffering. And that certainly meets our parish's mission to be Christ for each other and the world."

Higginbotham said the fair is also a great opportunity to show children the joy of giving.

"A child can buy a $12 mosquito net and give in the name of his teacher," she said. "It's a wonderful way to show our children it's not just about us and that we have a responsibility to the wider community."

The idea came about as the Bishop's Committee discussed ways to open St. Stephen's doors to the community more and better pursue the wider Episcopal Church's goal to eradicate poverty and hunger. The fair is not a fundraiser for the church.

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